EU health ministers: EU Member States to intensify cooperation and information exchange on coronavirus situation
On 6 March, EU health ministers held an extraordinary meeting to take stock of the constantly changing situation caused by the novel coronavirus disease and discuss how the EU and its Member States can contain further spread of the disease. Finland was represented by Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru.
EU must step up health security efforts together with WHO
“We have efficient global and European mechanisms in place to manage the situation, ensure the flow of information and prevent further spread of the disease. We must make better use of them together,” says Kiuru.
Finland’s view is that international cooperation should be based on consistent implementation of the WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHR). Finland calls for the European Commission to continue its active cross-administrative cooperation with the EU Member States, within the Commission among its directorates-general and internationally, especially with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Open exchange of information, raising awareness and protecting professionals in key roles
A number of Member States emphasised the need to communicate openly, raise awareness and give the public reliable information about the disease to help identify disease risks and prevent further spread of the disease.
In Finland, for example, a national telephone advice service has just been opened and passenger ports and commercial airports have set up information points to provide advice to travellers. Other Member States, too, have taken similar measures to raise awareness and provide the public with reliable, timely information.
Minister Kiuru reminds of the importance of ensuring that professionals who care for infected people are appropriately protected and that patient safety is observed.
“At the moment there are great differences in the disease situation across the EU. We need even more information on the novel coronavirus, and therefore it is important that Member States continuously update their situational awareness. We can contain further spread of the virus when we use strong, common and coordinated measures that aim at better exchange of information,” says Kiuru.
The EU health ministers’ meeting was a follow-up on the discussions that started in the extraordinary meeting held on 13 February. The Member States adopted then Council conclusions on EU response and coordination due to the threat caused by the novel coronavirus disease.
The Council meeting was also attended by representatives of the European Commission, the Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Veli-Mikko Niemi, Director-General, tel. +358 295 163 425, +358 46 921 0285